Is it okay to elope according to the Bible?
Since a man and a woman, who are legally considered to be adults, are free to marry in a formal or informal wedding or before a duly authorized government official, the issue of eloping applies only to young people who are still under the authority of their parents. Therefore, eloping only applies to teenagers who cannot legally decide to get married without parental approval. The definition of eloping refers to lovers who run away to get married. For example, the Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines elope as,
“Run away with a lover, or together . . . to get married.”
The Urban dictionary defines elope as,
To run off with a lover and be secretly married, usually without the knowledge/consent of one’s parents and family.
Therefore, we can define eloping as when a Christian couple runs off and marries without the approval of their parents. This occurs for a variety for reasons. The primary reason is that their parents would not approve of them marrying. But does the Bible approve of a couple eloping or marrying without parental approval?
Eloping When Parents Are Godly Christians
God clearly tells us in Scripture that children are to give honor to their parents. Honor is more than kind words. Honor includes respect and is revealed in a child’s behavior toward his/her parents. Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:2 tell children to honor their father and mother. In return God will give them a longer life.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. Exodus 20:12 (NASB)
HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise). Ephesians 6:2 (NASB)
Proverbs 23:22 commands children to listen to both father and mother. Children who do not obey will be denied divine blessings.
Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22 (NASB)
The advantage of godly parents who have been Christians for many years is that they will have spiritual wisdom given to them by the Holy Spirit that can be extremely beneficial to children if they will listen. But it is sad when children despise their parents. Notice that Proverbs 3:11 says that there “is a kind of man” who curses his father and will not bless his mother.
There is a kind of man who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
Proverbs 30:11 (NASB)
If young people elope because they do not want to listen to their godly Christian parents, then they will have abandoned godly wisdom. Serious heartaches and mistakes can be avoided by seeking parental insight before getting married.
Eloping When Parents Are Not Christians
The biblical principle of giving honor to parents also applies to non-Christians. However, if unbelieving parents or disobedient Christian parents object to a daughter or son marrying a Christian and insist that they marry an unbeliever, then their advice must be rejected. Believing children must never give honor to their parents when following their advice would violate biblical principles. On some occasions, unbelieving parents who are in a false religion or who are atheists may wish that their believing children marry outside the Christian faith. But believers are commanded to marry only Christians. In such situations, the couple should valiantly try to help their parents understand that they want to marry another Christian. If they are not successful, they must ignore their parents’ objections. At times to avoid problems, a couple may choose to elope. But if the couple is actually underage, it will usually be wise for them to wait until adulthood to marry. Very few, if any, young men are prepared before adulthood to support a wife and children.
An elopement should be the last option. The biblical principle in getting married is to seek parental approval when possible. God will bless children who honor their parents even when they are adults. After a Christian couple is married, they are to leave father and mother and cling to one another.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:24-25 (NASB)
1. Elope. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2007.
2. Elope. Urban Dictionary. urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=elope